Considerations When Establishing a Core Facility

researcher in a lab

When you are considering starting a new core facility, it is critical to take the time to determine the demand for your equipment and services among the Johns Hopkins research community. We highly recommend that you obtain information about the interest in your proposed new core facility by sending out a research community interest survey.

Please consider the following questions and gather the necessary information to support answering these questions when developing your service center business plan. This consistent and thoughtful process will help to facilitate the creation of efficient and compliant service centers.

  1. What is the overall purpose of the service center or core facility? What needs are you trying to address?
  2. What specific services or products will be offered? How will these services or products be measured (labor or machine hours, CPU unit, per test, per slide, etc.)
  3. Who will be the primary users (internal, external), and what is their source of funding?
  4. How much demand is there for the service or product? Do other service centers or core facilities exist that offer similar services or products?
  5. What resources are required to operate the service center (personnel, supplies, equipment, space, etc.)?
  6. Will there be a need for startup funding to cover the expenses, and if so, what will be the source of those funds?
  7. How much of a lag in the timing of collection of revenue do you need to build into your first-year budget? What is the break-even point for providing the service or product, particularly in the first year?
  8. Will you need to provide a subsidy to any customers or user groups based on center affiliations or targeted user groups, like new or junior faculty?
  9. If the operations will be funded by center grants or contracts, what are the program income requirements pertaining to the particular funding agencies?
  10. What is the estimated life of the service center? Will it be as long as sponsored project support, as long as the service center is self-sustaining, or as long as there is demand for the core even if it must be subsidized by the department or school?
  11. What staff members will be required to manage the lab, execute the services or products, and maintain compliance with financial and administrative requirements?
  12. What is the single largest factor to the success of your new service center?

Please email Research Cores if you would like to distribute a new survey for your proposed core facility.